by JON DYKSTRA The Iola Register | November 1, 2016
HUTCHINSON – The Allen Community College women's cross country team faced a much stiffer challenge in their conference/region race as the Red Devils entered the competition as the 7th ranked team in the nation, but rival Cowley County Community College came in as the 6th ranked team. Even though the race featured three other teams ranked in the nation's top-15, it appeared like it would come down to Allen and Cowley County for both the conference and region championships.
It played out just that way. "I was a lot more nervous on the female's side," DeGrado said. "I feel like if you run that race ten times you would get ten different results between the two teams." Allen's Kaitlyn Shoemaker finished first in the conference with a 18:39.06, to beat the next closest conference runner by 44 seconds. That next runner was Cowley County's Naomi Similus with a 19:23.04.
"Overall, I think I ran a good race," Shoemaker said. "With the weather and the course, it wasn't a day to P.R. or run really fast, but I did what I could with what I had." Allen's Vicky Ibarra and Abby Steinhauser were right behind their rival with 19:28.73 and 19:33.95 times to take third and fourth respectively. "Vicky stepped up big time and Abby was huge," DeGrado said. "Our top-three girls were huge for us." Vicky ran down and passed the Cowley and Cloud runner with less than 300m to go, however she wasn't able to hold on.
Cowley County rounded out its team-scoring runners by finishing 7-8-9-10.
Allen's Kristina Silvers took 11th and it would all come down to Allen's fifth runner.
"It was just one of those days for Kristina," DeGrado said. "She wasn't feeling good and she said she had the shakes a little bit. She has honestly been with Abby in workouts." "So I know she was very disappointed with how she ran." I know where she has been at and where she'll be at in 2 weeks.
Hannah Johnson secured the team conference title by finishing in 14th place with a 21:09.41.
"That course wasn't very friendly to Hannah or Kristina," DeGrado said. "But they didn't quit."
"I was very happy with how Hannah fought back, she dropped to #7 on the team and could of easily cashed in her race, however that showed how much she cared for her team. Even at her worst race, she was going to give her BEST effort and that's what it should be about." DeGrado said.
The Red Devils edged out Cowley County 33-36 to notch their second-straight conference title.
Unfortunately for the Red Devils, when the other schools' times were added in for the region team standings, Cowley County turned the tables on Allen and won by a 63-70 score.
"We had them beat for the region, we really did," DeGrado said. "Our four and five tried their best, but seven points is easy to make up." But those things happen and I'm sure each team could have the same situation going for or against them as well. "I know Cowley probably wanted to make this more of a rivalry than I care too, to be honest I've moved on from my past there and haven't really given it much thought, can't control what they or anybody else does. We'll run it back again soon." DeGrado said.
For the Conference the Lady Devils had a faster team average and put their #2 and 3 in front of their #2, however their #2 thru 5 in front of Allen's #4 and #6 in front of Allens #5.
The Cowley County-Allen rivalry will have its final chapter of the season in two weeks in El Dorado when the two teams battle for a podium spot in two weeks at nationals in El Dorado.
"We have two more weeks to get better," DeGrado said. "Our season is not about the conference and region meet. We have two more weeks to become a podium team.